Update, 3 September

In this update:

Expressing thanks – a reflection by the Headmaster

New items in the COVID-19 Resource Hub – in the Top Five and Faith and Spirituality sections

Expressing thanks

During COVID-19 we have been reminded of the vital role that many members of our community play. The list is long, but not limited to medical people, supermarket workers, scientists, emergency service personnel and school teachers. We have been heartened by the public support, such as the cheering of hospital workers as they enter work, the thank you posters and the piles of flowers. Others give in practical ways such as cooking meals for the needy or families in distress, volunteering time or money for a charity or helping the neighbour over the back fence. But sometimes a small personal thank you means so much. The pleasure is in the thanking as much as is felt by the person who will receive it and strengthens the wellbeing of the recipient and the giver.

As a Headmaster I occasionally feel the brunt of harsh words from a member of our School community. I always listen and respond. But I also experience the pleasure of being appreciated and thanked – sometimes from a past student many years down the track through an unexpected visit, letter or telephone call.

Sixteen years ago, Jeffrey Joachim died. Jeffrey’s death was sudden and unexpected; he was just 53 years old. The school communities in which he had worked were deeply saddened by his passing and mourned at their sense of loss. Many obituaries published in The Age reflected the love and admiration of staff, councils and above all students for ‘Mr J’. One wrote: In his benevolent and infinite wisdom, Mr Joachim would warn the hungry girl eating an apple covertly in class ‘Beware the Serpent'”. Others wanted to say thank you to Mr J for all he had done for them.

Mr J was my Year 7 form teacher 44 years ago when I was a student at Melbourne Grammar School. It is no exaggeration to call his teaching inspirational. It had nothing to do with age, (he was just 25 at the time), teaching qualifications (he was yet to complete them) or experience (he had only been teaching for three years at the time). His influence on me was significant and enduring.

Mr J’s teaching success lay in his wholehearted engagement with the students, his passion for his subject, flexibility in delivery which encouraged attention, his humour which sat lightly on heavy topics, and his myriad of interests and activities outside the classroom.

Teaching is a very personal vocation. It demands great skill, resilience, humour and maturity. We need to support teachers and the teaching vocation.

It is too late for me to tell Mr J how he impacted on my life now. I regret that I did not write that letter, lift the telephone or call to see Mr J in the intervening years to say a simple ‘thank you’ We need to show our appreciation for those around us – to find time to show our appreciation now. Because ‘later’ may well be too late.

New items in the COVID-19 Resource Hub

  • Tiny Desk Concerts is a video series of intimate concerts hosted by NPR (National Public Radio) Music in the USA and published in YouTube. Often featuring top performers, the more than 900 concerts have collectively elicited over one billion views. Here, Grimwade House teacher, John Donaldson, adds to our Top Five listings, with his favourites.
  • Rev’d Hans Christiansen, Senior Chaplain, reflects on the hope that spring brings, and highlights a piece of beautiful text from the Songs of Solomon which celebrates love at a time when winter is past here.
  • Rev’d Christiansen also invites those who feel comfortable doing so, to join him in a Prayer for the Elderly in our community.
  • Two additional Bible Studies sponsored by The Archbishop of Canterbury are now available. The fourth Bible Study in the series, Hope Rooted in God, explores God’s promise to always be with us as we move through any crisis. In the fifth and final study, Your Kingdom Come, the author reflects upon the petitions of the most well-known of prayers, The Lord’s Prayer, and asks “What does it mean for God’s kingdom to come and God’s will be done in the time of COVID-19?”

With my very best wishes

Philip Grutzner